You’re on your way to your dream destination to experience it from horseback, but it’s quite a long way from home. Usually, a cheap plane ticket means a long layover, and an international flight means to be at the airport quite some time in advance. There are loads of things to do in big airports around the world, and if you have a long enough layover, you can even take the opportunity to explore the city you’re in!
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Sometimes I purposely choose long layovers in cities I have not yet explored, or would like to visit again. Other times, I use it as an excuse to meet up with friends I haven't seen in ages. A friend of mine was living in Pretoria, South Africa, while I was living in the south near the coast. So, whenever I had a flight going out of the country, I made sure to have a few hours of layover in Johannesburg so we could catch up! It ends up making the flight cheaper, as direct flights are very expensive, and allows you to use your time to do fun things instead of waiting around at the airport. You can find lots of different cities to have a layover in on Skyscanner.
While I was traveling to Kenya, I had a long layover in Madrid, so I decided to go out and explore. I had an absolutely lovely day strolling around Madrid’s city centre, and got a cheap flight from Amsterdam to Kenya - it doesn't get any better! Do always make sure to check if you are allowed to leave the airport during your layover, and if you have enough time to get back to your flight. Two hours won’t be enough to go in and out of the airport as you will have to go through security and border control again. The perfect layover to explore the city with is an 8 hour layover during the daytime, this way you will have around 5 or 6 hours to stroll through town! Also, always check how far the airport is from town, and if there are any other places to see near the airport. For example, Amsterdam airport is only 10 minutes from the city centre by train, but also only 40 minutes by train from the Keukenhof, which is a spectacular tulip garden! From London Heathrow, it takes only 15 minutes by train to get to Paddington station. However, if you have a layover in London Southend Airport, it will take you over 4 hours (!) to reach the city by train. The beach is only 2 miles away from London Southend Airport, so turn it into a beach day instead!
Airport lounges are perfect when you have a few hours layover and not enough time to go out to explore. Most airlines have a lounge, and otherwise there are always general lounges where you can pay for entry. If you are there for a few hours and in need of rest, a shower, lots of food and snacks or a good place to do work, it’s really worth the money! Once you have paid the entrance fee, or entered by showing your airline ticket, you can enjoy unlimited drinks, snacks and meals. Charge your phone in peace and quiet, take a shower, watch TV, read the paper or take a nap before your flight.
It’s always a good idea to become a member of a frequent flyer program. I personally am a member of Flying Blue as it includes KLM, which I fly very often coming from and going to the Netherlands. There are lots of other frequent flyer programs and every airline is included in one of them. It’s best to choose the airline you fly most often, so that you can really benefit from it. When you fly more with the airlines that are included in the program you're a member of, you’ll get access to lounges, free extra checked in bags, free choice of seats, and more goodies the more you save up points! It ends up making airport waits and flying a lot more comfortable, and even cheaper. You can use your miles to save money on direct flights - skip the layover completely! And, if you want to be truly bougie, you can use your miles to fly business class.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and found it useful. If you have any questions about layovers or other worries about flying, feel free to contact me. If you have any requests for future blog posts, please do not hesitate to send me a message.
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